Commonly Used OET Phrases
The patient was admitted with the diagnosis of
The patient was admitted and diagnosed with
I am writing to refer Mr. Watson who shows signs and symptoms of
At the time of admission,
Please note, she has an appointment with his surgeon at
The patient will benefit from
She has been seen by a dietician
The patient has had diabetes since 2015.
She has gained 10kg over the past 6 months.

Prepositions often seem like small words that are too hard to use correctly, but they really are important parts of the language and so it is essential for OET success that you invest time and effort into learning them properly.

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Among English learners, misusing prepositions is one of the most frequent mistakes. This is because they are so challenging to learn. In most cases, there are no rules governing their use; you just have to know them. This causes a great deal of frustration for everyone, yet it is not something that can be overlooked.

Prepositions can be very important to the meaning of a sentence. While in some cases an error means little, in many cases it can actually change the whole sentence. In OET, and in the wider medical profession, this is simply not acceptable. Accurate use of prepositions is required.

In the following article, you will learn how to use some important prepositions that will help you prepare for OET.

What are prepositions and why are they so important?

Prepositions are words that show the relationship between a noun or pronoun and another part of the sentence, such as a verb. Often, they can show spatial relationships, and so the first prepositions that people usually learn are ones like “on,” “in,” “under,” and “near.”These are generally quite easy to learn as they follow simple, predictable rules and most people learn them in childhood.

Of course, they can also relate more complex ideas, and we use them frequently when referring to time and other abstract concepts. Take a look at these examples:

  • The patient must see the specialist before Friday.
  • The patient must see the specialist on Friday.
  • The patient must see the specialist after Friday.
  • The patient must see the specialist by Friday.

Here we have four different prepositions that change the meaning of a sentence. Although all the other words are the same, this little word completely alters the overall meaning. In fact, when expressing information about time, it can be of the utmost importance that the preposition used is the correct one. Take the instructions for using medicine as an example:

  • The patient must take his medication with meals.
  • The patient must take his medication after meals.

In cases like this, misusing the preposition could be disastrous as it would lead to the incorrect use of medication. As such, there is no room for error.

How to learn prepositions effectively

Learning prepositions can be really frustrating because there are few rules dealing with them. Although we can often group them together for time, in other cases, their use seems quite random. As such, it is important to learn prepositions in phrases. In fact, this is generally a very good way of learning all new vocabulary.

Rather than learning the word “admit” and then risking making a mistake in collocating it with a preposition, you should learn the word with its natural collocations:

  • Sampson was admitted to the ICU on Monday.
  • Shields was admitted with signs of an inflamed appendix.
  • Donovan was admitted on Sunday evening.

Each of these has a different meaning, and we cannot mix them up or else the result would be nonsense:

  • Sampson was admitted with the ICU on Monday.
  • Shields was admitted on signs of an inflamed appendix.
  • Donovan was admitted to Sunday evening.

Prepositions often match with a verb to make a phrasal verb, which is one that has a completely different meaning to the individual parts. These are particularly difficult for English learners because in most cases you could not simply look at the verb and the preposition and guess the meaning. The two (or three) words together can have a meaning that is completely separate from the sum of the individual parts. For example, there are many phrasal verbs that relate to sickness that any doctor or nurse should be familiar with:

  • bring up / bring (something) up – to vomit
  • come down with – to catch an illness
  • get over – to recover from an illness
  • pass out – to lose consciousness
  • patch up – (inf.) to apply a dressing, give stitches, or otherwise help in healing an injury

These are just a few of the common ones, but there are many more. In addition to the ones directly related to illnesses, healthcare professions need to know the many phrasal verbs that relate to lifestyle because obviously this is something that would need to be discussed with a patient. For example, “give up” refers to quitting something, such as cigarettes or alcohol.

Learning all of this is a time-consuming process and there are really no shortcuts. You can choose to do it in one of two ways: Either you can write down prepositions in your notebook and then find phrases that include the preposition, or you can simply make note of prepositional phrases once you find them. Generally speaking, the second is more effective, albeit it takes a longer time to acquire a wide range of knowledge. Alternatively, you could blend the two methods together. In any case, getting a high level of proficiency takes patience and effort, but the reward is a far greater mastery of English. You may also take professional support of our expert OET trainers who can improve your writing skills by correcting your letters.

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